Welcome to the Château des Sénéchaux

Situated in the heart of the Dordogne countryside, the Château des Sénéchaux offers Four Star Accommodation comprising three luxurious properties, each with unique views, seclusion and a sense of intimacy.

Château des Sénéchaux, La Maison de Jacquette
Château des Sénéchaux, La Maison de Jacquette

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Château des Sénéchaux
Château des Sénéchaux

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Château des Sénéchaux
Château des Sénéchaux

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Château des Sénéchaux, La Maison de Jacquette
Château des Sénéchaux, La Maison de Jacquette

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Château des Sénéchaux
Bourdeilles, 24310 - A Potted History

The ruins of a hospital for the poor dating back to 1451 provided the foundation for the Château des Sénéchaux which was built in the 1500's. With slate and tile topped towers, gothic arches, a prison cell, extensive cellars, and a secret tunnel, the property is loaded with fairytale charm.

Constructed on top of the rocky promontory carved out over the millennia by the river below, the terraces have outstanding views. Even higher, up in the slate tower, the family of barn owls presides over the village, venturing out each evening for the nightly hunt. Hidden in the top of the original 15th century tower is a room that will intrigue and offer an insight into the forethought and priorities of the designers.

Today the 17th century coach house and stables now provide sumptuous accommodation, with unique views from every window, towards the Château de Bourdeilles, almost in touching distance, over the rooftops of the village, down to the river Dronne with its tree-lined banks, and across the fields to the forests and hills.

The property was first cited in 1451 as the “Hopitum de Hélias”, and then was extended as the Manoir des Hélies which was built by Jean Bertaud, the humanist, lord of Pouzols and Hélies, born in La Tour Blanche in 1502. He later taught literature in Paris and law in Toulouse, and was an adviser to André de Bourdeille, the first Sénéchal nominated by the King.

This 15th century manor, for several years, was the former accommodation and seat of the Seneschals of the barony of Bourdeille.

​The designated seat, the Château de Bourdeilles was indeed only a very austere medieval fortress, almost uninhabitable, and the Renaissance dwelling, which would eventually allow the reinstatement of the barony, would be built only at the very end of the 16th century.

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​André de Bourdeille was also the husband of Jaquette de Montbron, a "female architect" who had the Renaissance castle built at great expense near the former medieval residence.

Here she had hoped to receive Queen Catherine de Medici, for whom she was lady-in-waiting, but sadly this visit did not take place.

André and Jaquette's eldest son, Henri, and their grandson, François-Sicaire, were also Seneschals of Périgord.

Bourdeilles is a beautiful village located in the valley of the Dronne, a narrow and winding river which stretches for just over 200 km. As you enter the village, you will be surprised by its sudden appearance, arguably the same feeling that warriors felt in the 11th century and the Middle Ages.

For you, however, it's not a feeling of foreboding, but a surge of enthusiasm to stop the car and explore. Depending on which way you approach the village, you will have been welcomed by either the 11th century Keep or the 13th century St Pierre church, both imposing their presence and dominating the village.

The Château des Sénéchaux, which lies between the two monuments, hides its charms until you reach the gates, and then intrigue will tempt you to peek inside, where your curiosity will be rewarded by fairytale towers sprouting from a Rapunzel stone staircase and gothic arches with tantalizing views over the fields below.

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Crédit photo : Déclic et Décolle

The château is built of dressed stone and limestone rubble. The north facade overlooks the Dronne from the cliff on which it is built. This façade, as well as the west façade show the wealth of the family and the defensive character of the property, with impregnable stone walls that can reach 22m in height.​

In the northeast corner of the main property, a hexagonal tower, home to a grand spiral staircase, is pierced with transom mullions in glazed stone (16th century), and completed by a second turret on the north side.

A third tower with a decorative slate roof completes the ensemble. Reading the Napoleonic cadastre clearly shows the additions made, in particular the construction of two pavilions (17th century) delimiting an interior courtyard which is entered from the south. A wall of the inner courtyard has a small tri-lobed bay from the Gothic period (15th century).​

The presence of a helmet of a Seneschal in the tympanum of the classical door testifies to the primary function of the residence, as do the prison cell and the secret tunnel leading to the Château de Bourdeilles.

The life of the château post Napoleon is somewhat less colourful, as the property came into the hands of private owners, however at the end of the 1800's it had come full circle from the Hopitum de Hélias, again becoming home to a doctor, Dr Lafon who used part of the stable block as his infirmary. 

Subsequently, a gentleman merchant of haberdashery and wall tapestries, Mr Geneste, bought the property, and he and his wife invested greatly in the updating and decoration of the main house. During his time, the house exuded a sense of family warmth and life.

The last owners before us were for the first time, British, and in the early years they were hosts to artists and students, and used the courtyard for weddings and other festive gatherings.

Now, the entire property has been renovated by us, providing a marvellous home for our family, and stylish and luxurious suites for our guests.

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